Drive

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The new Mini Cooper S hits the road; Fer­rari goes en­vi­ron­men­tal

A more pow­er­ful en­gine that’s more fuel-ef­fi­cient in a ma­ture drive with a friv­o­lous amount of tech: the new Mini Cooper S is a para­dox wrapped in a fanta-like shell

Don’t be fooled by the gar­ish or­ange paint job, this all-new Mini Cooper S has grown up, with greater fuel ef­fi­ciency and a more pol­ished driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. That sound a lit­tle lack­ing in knock­about fun for your lik­ing? Fear not, it still knows how to let loose, too.

De­spite that im­proved ef­fi­ciency – CO

2 emis­sions are cut to 133g/km with the six-speed man­ual gear­box and 122g/km if you go au­to­matic – there’s a big­ger en­gine un­der the bon­net. It’s a two-litre lump from BMW’s new Twin Power range, with di­rect in­jec­tion and turbo charg­ing, and of­fers more power and torque than the out­go­ing Cooper S’s 1.6-litre.

It’s a more ma­ture all-round driv­ing propo­si­tion, too. The old Mini was a bit ragged, but here there’s grip, poise and pace. It’s less manic, more con­trolled, but no less fun to drive. Want ex­tra con­trol of the feel? There’s op­tional ac­tive sus­pen­sion that syncs with throt­tle, steer­ing and en­gine map­ping to of­fer three driv­ing modes – Green, Mid and Sport – that you flick be­tween us­ing the ro­tary switch that cir­cles the gear stick.

Take a look in­side the new Mini and you’ll re­alise that there’s been a big tech up­grade, too. A new 8.8-inch hi-def screen sat be­tween the driver and pas­sen­ger seats makes maps look glo­ri­ous, while the LED halo sur­round­ing it (see box, right) gives it a truly fu­tur­is­tic look.

the old mini was a bit ragged, but here there’s grip, poise and pace

More salient driver info is shown on a heads-up dis­play, such as speed and nav­i­ga­tion up­dates. Tick the Driver As­sis­tance box when or­der­ing and you’ll also get smart cruise con­trol for has­sle-free mo­tor­way driv­ing, park­ing as­sis­tance and col­li­sion avoid­ance.

The Mini Con­nected in-car OS has been up­graded, too, adding iPhone and An­droid com­pat­i­bil­ity, plus the new Jour­ney Mate app, which in­cludes door-to-door nav­i­ga­tion and real-time traf­fic data.

So, it’s faster, more ef­fi­cient, more fun and far techier than any Mini be­fore. It’s also a much nicer place to spend time, partly thanks to the more ma­ture dy­nam­ics, but also be­cause the cabin has been slapped about with the qual­ity stick. Early im­ages of its ex­te­rior gave the im­pres­sion of a slightly samey but bloated Mini with a bul­bous nose, but first im­pres­sions were wrong: the new Mini Cooper S is still a true de­sign icon. Yes, even in or­ange. FROM $41,700, mini.com.au, out now

Our Mini ad­ven­ture be­gan at Mal­lorca’s Palma Air­port. We went for a punt along the lo­cal mo­tor­ways head­ing out of town, but it wasn’t un­til we hit the Ma-10, a sin­u­ous-go­ing-on-tor­tu­ous rib­bon of north-coast tar­mac hug­ging the coast­line, that we were re­ally able to marvel at

this car’s ca­pac­ity for fun.

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